2015 Scrooge Awards

Thank you for voting in the The Liberty Institute 2015 Scrooge Awards!

This year’s award goes to the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), for launching a national assault in 2015 on law enforcement officers and the national motto. 

Between July 29 and November 2, FFRF sent more than 60 letters to various police departments and sheriffs’ offices—demanding that the officers remove the national motto, “In God We Trust,” from their vehicles. Liberty Institute is already defending several sheriffs and police chiefs, and is committed to defending any police departments or sheriffs’ offices facing similar harassment from FFRF. 

To read more about this year’s winner and the other nominees, scroll down. 

 


The Freedom From Religion Foundation

For degrading the morale of America’s law enforcement officers and attacking the national motto, “In God We Trust”

 

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) launched a national assault in 2015 on law enforcement officers and the national motto. Between July 29 and November 2, FFRF sent more than 60 letters to various police departments and sheriffs’ offices—demanding that the officers remove the national motto, “In God We Trust,” from their vehicles. Many police departments and sheriffs’ offices chose to place the words “In God We Trust” on their cruisers as a way to boost morale among their officers—especially in a year where animosity toward law enforcement is so high. Kelly Shackelford says, “The idea that it’s illegal for police or sheriffs to have the national motto on their car is ridiculous.” Liberty Institute is already defending several sheriffs and police chiefs, including Texas Police Chief, Adrian Garcia, in his stand against FFRF. , Liberty Institute is committed to defending any police departments or sheriffs’ offices facing similar harassment from FFRF. Read more.

Want to help Liberty Institute protect law enforcement officers—and all Americans—from attacks like this one in 2016? Donate here!  


Bremerton High School of Bremerton, Washington

For suspending high school football coach Joe Kennedy for saying a silent private prayer after games

Bremerton High School (BHS) initiated a relentless campaign in 2015 against prayer and free religious expression in public schools. It began when BHS ordered their assistant football coach, Joe Kennedy, to stop his seven-year practice of speaking a personal prayer at the 50-yard line after every game. Liberty Institute immediately jumped to Coach Kennedy’s defense, explaining his First Amendment rights and offering to meet with BHS officials. But BHS refused to meet with Liberty Institute, and for the next several weeks, continued their insistence that Coach Kennedy stop praying, even denying his respectful request for religious accommodation. On October 28, 2015, Bremerton High School suspended Coach Kennedy, mandating that he may not “participate, in any capacity, in BHS football program activities”—the day before the last varsity football game of the season. Liberty Institute is pursuing legal action on Coach Kennedy’s behalf, and is determined to protect the rights of Coach Kennedy, and all school administrators, to express their faith. Read more.  

Want to help Liberty Institute protect school administrators like Coach Kennedy—and all Americans—from attacks like this one in 2016? Donate here!  



State of Georgia Department of Public Health

For firing District Health Director, Dr. Eric Walsh, for his personal religious beliefs

The State of Georgia wrongfully terminated Dr. Eric Walsh in 2014 and his legal battle seeking to vindicate his religious liberty rights continues.  Georgia’s Department of Public Health hired Dr. Eric Walsh as a  District Health Director. But when state officials learned about Dr. Walsh’s traditional religious beliefs concerning marriage and sexuality, they combed through sermons he had preached in his own time on the weekends (he was an ordained lay minister in his church), and terminated him—informing him of the news in a voicemail in which they laughed about firing him. “This kind of intolerance has no place in today’s workforce,” state Jeremy Dys, Senior Counsel for Liberty Institute. “People of faith ought to be respected at work, not fired for expressing their religious beliefs at church.” Liberty Institute is committed to defending Dr. Walsh as his case progresses. Read more. 

Want to help Liberty Institute protect employees like Dr. Eric Walsh—and all Americans—from attacks like this one in 2016? Donate here!



Mikey Weinstein from Military Religious Freedom Foundation

For complaining to the U.S. Air Force Academy about the football players praying in public before games

Last year’s Scrooge Award recipient is at it again. Just last month, Mikey Weinstein—an attorney who once called for the court-martial of 400 Christian officers for sharing their faith—complained to the Air Force Academy about members of their football team holding hands and praying in the end zone before football games. It isn’t the first time Weinstein has gone after the Air Force and the Air Force academy. Last year, Weinstein complained about a cadet writing a Bible verse on his personal dorm dry erase board. The Air Force Academy is currently investigating the matter thanks to Weinstein’s complaint about a fundamental American right—the free expression of religion. 

Want to help Liberty Institute protect military members—and all Americans—from attacks like this one in 2016? Donate here!  


The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)

For forcing religious, non-profit organizations to violate their beliefs through the HHS Abortion Mandate

As part of the HHS Mandate—or “Obamacare”—the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is attempting to force religious, non-profit organizations to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs to their employees, with utter disregard to the ministries’ rights of conscience. Many ministries are filing lawsuits against HHS, including Liberty Institute client Insight for Living Ministries (IFLM), the Bible-teaching non-profit organization of renowned Pastor Charles Swindoll. “IFLM believes it is a religious imperative to provide healthcare insurance and defend unborn human life,” Matthew Kasmaryk, Deputy General Counsel for Liberty Institute explains. “Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the federal government cannot force IFLM to choose between these two religious beliefs.” Read more. 

Want to help Liberty Institute protect religious non-profit ministries—and all Americans—from attacks like this one in 2016? Donate here!


U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

For banning their employees in Salem, Virginia from wishing veterans a “Merry Christmas”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility in Salem, Virginia has displayed a lack of Christmas cheer this season, by first banning Christmas trees (the trees were finally permitted to return after pressure from employees), and then telling employees that personal religious speech must be confined to “personal work areas.” The new rule even leaves a caveat allowing officials to censor that personal religious speech if they deem it “interfere[s] with carrying out official duties and responsibilities.” Will VA officials punish any employee who, with all good cheer, accidentally wishes our nation’s veterans a “Merry Christmas?” Time will tell. 

Want to help Liberty Institute protect employees, veterans, and all Americans from attacks like this one in 2016? Donate here!  


Jefferson Parish, Louisiana Officials

For criminalizing a church—then fingerprinting the pastor in front of his congregation—because church services were “too loud”

Officials in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, issued criminal sanctions to a church in a New Orleans suburb because their church services exceeded 60 dB: the noise level of a typical conversation. One of Vintage Church’s buildings is currently undergoing expansion in order to accommodate the growing congregation. In the meantime, members are meeting in a climate-controlled outdoor tent at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. every Sunday. But when a neighbor complained about the noise level, multiple law enforcement vehicles were sent to investigate the church—even fingerprinting the pastor in front of the entire congregation. When the church members attempted to follow new guidelines to minimize the noise level, Jefferson Parish officials changed the rules again—making it impossible for church members to accommodate their demands. Liberty Institute filed a lawsuit against Jefferson Parish on December 10, 2015, and is committed to protecting their right to worship freely and in peace.

Want to help Liberty Institute protect churches and other religious organizations from attacks like this one in 2016? Donate here!

 

2015 Scrooge Awards
     
2015 Scrooge Awards
     

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